Visuals: stage elements

It makes sense to post about stage elements after album artworks, it’s easy to see the connection. Mika loves big, colorful show elements. Many characters and symbols he’s using in his stories or directly in the lyrics can be seen both in the illustrations and on stage. Everyone familiar with his work knows he’s a visionary mind, there’s always pure logic and consistency behind everything he does.

I made a small photo gallery of every album era around the photos in my previous post and even though there are only a few pics in each gallery it’s really easy to see how different themes, colors, shapes and symbols from each album are repeated in the related stage settings. Seeing how everything is connected has a huge meaning to me and I find it not only interesting but also somehow satisfying and pleasing and enjoy being able to see it, being able to observe all the details.

The first gallery describes Life In Cartoon Motion. The circus stage and balloon pics are from 2008, the other photos were taken in 2011 but the elements in them (big girls, lollipop girls, Billy Brown flag) refer directly to LICM songs so I included them in this gallery.

When I saw my first gig in 2008 I couldn’t wait to finally hear my favorite songs Relax and Ring Ring live. Otherwise I didn’t know what to expect from the show. I wasn’t prepared what a colorful party it was.

It was a mind-blowing experience. I couldn’t believe something like that existed. The stage was full of flowers, candles and colorful characters like lollipop girls, big girls and animals and the whole venue seemed to explode with confetti and balloons. The most beautiful detail of the night was to finally hear the intro for Love Today – I couldn’t believe it’s possible for someone to sing that stunningly – and to see “the kiss with the death”, the darkest yet prettiest thing I could imagine happening on stage. Below is a small clip I filmed at Brixton Academy that night, I discovered it later in my archives.

The same scene can also be seen in the beginning of Love Today from Parc des Princes that was later that same year. I bought tickets to see the PDP concert before I saw my first Mika gig. I just knew I had to see the big one too and I’m endlessly grateful I could organize to be there, that time it meant I had to take my whole family to Paris with me.

In the end of the clip there’s a nice view to an enormous dragon circling around the stage and in the audience. The dragon was my favorite show element that night and to remember the details I watched the Making of the Parc des Princes Show video which is included on Mika Live Parc des Princes Paris DVD. The document tells the dragon was 100m long and that before the event it caused some worries being stuck in customs. Not an average stage element in any way!

For Parc des Princes Mika collaborated with stage designer and visual artist Es Devlin and on her web page it’s possible to see several photos of the massive circus themed stage. The document tells about their collaboration, shows the first custom-made Louboutin men’s shoes and describes many other fascinating details about the show. If someone hasn’t seen it yet I highly recommend the DVD and especially the making of it document which is one of the most inspiring things I know for sure. Having a vision like that and then making it happen is extraordinary and something to be proud of for the rest of his life.

That night was only the second time I saw Mika on stage. I was overwhelmed by energy, colors and details and couldn’t pay attention to everything and just remember being absolutely stunned, not only by music but also and especially by the incredible creativity and craziness of the show. I can also vividly remember how enviously I looked at the group of photographers walking around the field to get better angles and to catch every show element with their cameras. I wished I could have done the same and after that have always used every possibility to take photos and document different details during shows.

The photo below is from Udine 2010 and I added it to give an example of another circus themed stage background that was later used at summer festivals.

My favorite show elements on the Imaginarium Tour were the news flash scene starring Sir Ian McKellen on a huge video screen and Mika “space walking” above the stage. Even though I knew those were just show elements and even though I saw all that happening several times – the excitement felt real. I’ve earlier written a long summary about the tour so not adding any videos here.

Space theme had an important role both on the album covers and in the show elements and big girls and lollipop girls shared the stage with feather coated Dr John and Toy Boy characters. Below is a small gallery showing the color scheme in The Boy Who Knew Too Much illustrations and Imaginarium stage elements.

The Origin Of Love album cover art was different style compared to the two previous albums and had less colors and more symbolism in it and the related stage elements reflected the same style. Green and white polkadot pattern was used in the outfits and on the background and clear symbols like a heart, an apple and medicine pills referred to love, Adam and Eve and love as a drug. The most important show element was the polkadot choir that gave many people a possibility to experience a gig on stage instead of being in the audience.

No Place In Heaven seems to be my favorite as an album and I love seeing it as a gallery as well. No Place In Heaven started Mika’s collaboration with Belgium and Netherlands based design company Studio Job and as a result we saw the Heaven Tour stage setting with several giant and colorful stage elements. It’s hard to choose my personal favorite but the big, gorgeous, crystalline globe is a strong candidate others being a colorful gate and a giant red heart with white wings.

The collaboration with Studio Job has continued in other Mika projects as well. Below more heart themed photos. The first heart is from the massive spectacle at Bercy in Paris, the second heart photo was taken in Milan during Casa Mika recordings and the third one is from Stade de France 2018. I can’t put in words how exciting it was to see the heart-shaped stage appearing in the middle of the stadium after the rugby final. One of my favorite moments of everything I’ve ever seen, some massive symbolism in it.

In the beginning of the post I shared a little Love Today clip from my first gig and this week it’s been exactly 11 years since that night. Feels appropriate to end the post with a small Love Today clip from the latest gig I’ve seen at the moment which happened last November at Cirque de’Hiver in Paris. I love it how powerful this tiny clip is even without any other stage elements than drumming and lights (coming also from bracelets in the audience).